Puerto Vallarta malecon

Sky Game

Photo by Donna Day

The malecon, located in the heart of down town Puerto Vallarta is a must do for any visitor to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  The best time to stroll the boardwalk can be at sunset but as can be seen by the following post, writer Justin Henderson, and talented photographer Donna Day, capture a street delight in the middle of the day, so walk on down the malecon, you never know what you’ll see.

Flying Game

Photo by Donna Day

The Flying Game

On a recent Vallarta stroll we got lucky with timing and happened upon a performance of the Voladores of Papantla, a troupe of Native Americans who perform a ritualized spinning, flying dance around a central pole.

This dance, which is erroneously attributed solely to a tribe from Veracruz but in reality had long ago spread through many parts of Mexico in pre-colombian times. The Spanish conquerors sought to suppress all forms of native dance, religion, and cultural expression, and yet this dance survived in remote parts of the country, and has recently been revived in a more circus-like, performance oriented fashion that is clearly designed to appeal to tourists.

But it is way cool, nevertheless, with the four guys spinning around, and a fifth guy perched atop the central pole. The one stuck in the sand below the malecon was made of metal, while the original, according to most accounts, was a tree trunk, not allowed to touch the ground until it is set in place.

The actual dance represented a fairly elaborate set of symbols and metaphors—for example the four dancers representing the four points of the compass, and the descending dancers representing fertility in the form of life-giving rain.


Photo by Donna Day

The rituals perhaps have been lost to us spectators, but still, the sight was oddly stirring, soothing, and inspiring. If you happen to be on the malecon and you see half a dozen indigenous looking guys wearing these white costumes with elaborate, colorful, stitching and mirrors sewn in, stick around—you just might see a bit of native Mexican magic.

Long Lining

Photo by Donna Day


Justin Henderson is the author of nine books on architecture and interior design, travel guides to Costa Rica, Los Angeles, and the Caribbean, and seven murder mysteries featuring amateur sleuth Lucy Ripken. His surfing style is much like his writing, playful, smooth and easy on the eyes.

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